By Merle Exit
Theatre By The Bay will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a production of the romantic comedy “Beau Jest” from new artistic director Cathy Chimenti.
Chimenti is new to staff, having joined after one of the directors retired about a year and a half ago. One of her responsibilities and goals as artistic director is making sure many of the technical aspects of the productions are taken care of.
“Knowing a great many people in the theatre, people from the outside are willing to offer assistance that may include props and costumes,” she said.
Chimenti said that with lack of publicity that the theatre receives, she wanted to draw audiences that include people outside Queens, which led to a new production. She reached out to Patrice Valenti to serve as a guest director after working with her as an actress in the company last year and with that, “Beau Jest” was born.
“We’re thrilled to have Patrice making her directorial debut on our stage with this production of ‘Beau Jest,’” Chimenti said.
“Beau Jest” revolves around Sarah, a “nice Jewish girl” whose parents want her married to a “nice Jewish boy.” They are about to meet her boyfriend, a WASP executive named Chris Kringle, although Sarah tells them that he is a Jewish Doctor.
She plans a dinner party and employs an escort service to send her a Jewish date to play “Dr. Steinberg.” Instead, they send Bob Schroeder, an aspiring actor who agrees to perform the impersonation. Bob is so convincing that Sarah’s parents are enraptured. Will Sarah stay with Chris, or fall for Bob?
Valenti selected Nili Resnick to portraying the main character, Sarah Goldman. She said it was an easy choice to make.
“As soon as she walked into the waiting area I heard her voice and realized the vision I had in my head,” Valenti said. “When she auditioned, I knew that she fit the role as well as having a personality that fit the stage.”
Valenti made another easy casting choice, selecting Kyle T. Cheng to portray Chris Kringle.
“He just blew me away with his presence on stage that just takes command,” she said.
Stephen Kalogeres plays his romantic rival, Bob Schroeder, and brings a “lovely innocence” to the character, Valenti said.
Valenti said her experience as an actress played a huge role in how she directed the production.
“I’m now partial and sensitive to actors’ needs and believe that it is always good to know both sides of a performance,” Valenti said.
“Beau Jest” opens Sunday afternoon with a 3 p.m. show. The production will be on stage on Saturday, March 10, and March 17, at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday March 11, and March 18 at 3 p.m.
The show will be held at Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center, located at 13-00 209th St., in Bayside.
Tickets are available for $22 for adults and $20 for seniors ages 62 and over and children ages 12 and under.
For more information or to purchase your seats, call (718) 428-6363, or visit theatrebythebayny.com.